Responding to a Restraining Order in Alberta

If you have been served as a respondent to a restraining order, there may be a lot of different things running through your mind. Breaching a restraining or protection order is a criminal offence that will remain on your record, possibly impacting your future. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the situation and the individual who has taken the order out against you, it could be a complicated response. This would be an occasion in which you would be helping yourself by seeking the aid of a criminal defence lawyer.

If you have been served with an application for a restraining order, your response may be key in determining whether or not the order is granted. In this article, we will go over the different types of restraining orders to better inform you of how to respond.

In Canada, different provinces have different provisions for restraining orders, and other countries and their unique jurisdictions will also have different laws. Today, we will be using Alberta as an example of the different types of restraining orders that a court may grant.

Different Types of Restraining and Protection Orders

It is important to know the difference between different types of restraining orders so that you can best respond to the one you were served. Different orders may have different conditions and consequences for being breached.

Emergency Protection Order

An emergency protection order, or EPO, is used when there is an immediate need for protection. Police can obtain an EPO when investigating domestic disturbances, and utilize them to remove offenders from a home and prevent them from returning. These are often used when violent or threatening behaviour occurs between family members or intimate partners. EPOs can be filed without notice to the other party and must be reviewed by a judge within 9 working days.

Queen’s Bench Protection Order

These protection orders are for matters which don’t have as much urgency as those under an EPO, and a judge can order an EPO to be replaced with this type of order. These applications are made with notice to the other party and can provide direction for money to be repaid if there were expenses due to the violence of the offending party.

Restraining Order

Restraining orders made in family violence situations are also obtained in the Court of Queen’s Bench and apply to situations in which an individual is afraid for their physical safety due to the behaviours of another party whom they have lived with or been in an intimate relationship with. Although a review date will be set, the other party doesn’t need to be notified and the order can often be obtained on the same date it was applied for. These orders are not to be used to settle property or parenting disputes and can result in arrest if disobeyed.

Restraining orders made in other cases, such as between parents and adult children, coworkers, neighbours, or individuals in dating or other relationships are very similar but do require notice to the other party and require a Statement of Claim with the Court of Queens Bench. These apply in situations in which an individual has been assaulted or threatened with violence and can also result in arrest if disobeyed. Both of these types of restraining orders are generally put in place for 3 months or permanently if required.

Exclusive Home Possession Order

These orders are used particularly in cases where there is a dispute about who will live in a home and who will move out when there is a breakdown in a relationship. The orders are generally made in the interest of whoever may be most inconvenienced by moving out or in the best interests of any children involved. In these cases, violence doesn’t need to be an underlying factor and possession of other larger assets (such as a vehicle) could also apply.

Peace Bond

Peace bonds are made due to police complaints and require basic restrictions such as no contact with specific persons and to stay away from certain areas. These can be ordered in non-emergency situations. Although the accused may be arrested and given notice to appear in court, peace bonds do not reflect a criminal record and will be set for trial if the accused does not agree to the bond on the original court date.

So How Should You Respond to a Restraining Order?

As you can see, there are many different instances in which a restraining order may be granted. Because of this, there is a lot to be said for the different ways in which you may want to respond.

The best advice that we can give is to remain cool, calm and collected: to disprove claims against you, the best defence is demonstrating to the court that you are a reasonable enough person that a restraining order isn’t necessary - and never has been. For the best tips on defending yourself against a restraining order, we recommend speaking with an experienced criminal defence lawyer to better define the objectives of your response.